CRAIG LEWIS rates the 15 teams after 14 rounds of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Super Rugby conference system makes for confusing reading regarding the respective team standings in the tournament.
SARugbymag.co.za’s senior writer identifies the form teams as well as the bottom-feeders.
1. Crusaders (9-3-1) – last week’s ranking: 1
It’s actually quite remarkable that the Crusaders have drawn three matches this season. Despite having to settle for a share of the spoils in Cape Town on Saturday, they are still entrenched in top spot.
2. Hurricanes (9-1-3) – last week’s ranking: 2
The Hurricanes stumbled to defeat against the Jaguares on Friday, and any chance of catching up to the Crusaders has effectively come to an end. However, it’s not enough to displace them from second spot in these rankings.
3. Vodacom Bulls (7-5) – last week’s ranking: 8
You have to hand it to the Bulls. This is a team that came into the season without many expectations, but on Friday they claimed a comfortable win over the Rebels in Melbourne – their first victory overseas since 2016 – and have moved back to the top of the SA conference.
4. Jaguares (7-5) – last week’s ranking: 6
The Jaguares remain firmly in the hunt in the SA conference. Last Friday’s win over the Hurricanes was one of their most impressive results of the season, and they look well on track for a playoff place.
5. Sharks (5-1-6) – last week’s ranking: 3
The Sharks had a bye this past weekend, and slip down a couple places in the rankings. A big match against the Lions awaits this weekend.
6. Lions (7-5) – last week’s ranking: 9
The Lions simply refuse to give up the fight in this year’s tournament. Saturday’s impressive win over the Highlanders was described by coach Swys de Bruin as one of their most impressive displays of the season, and has well and truly revived their playoff hopes.
7. Highlanders (5-2-6) – last week’s ranking: 4
The Landers slide down the rankings after their defeat to the Lions on Saturday. They will now travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers, and will desperately need a win to keep in the running for a playoff place.
8. Brumbies (6-6) – last week’s ranking: 7
The Brumbies had a bye in round 14, but still remain top of the Australian conference.
9. Rebels (6-6) – last week’s ranking: 5
The Rebels have fallen out of the playoff places after their 32-17 defeat to the Bulls, and a once promising season is very quickly going pear-shaped.
10. Stormers (5-1-6) – last week’s ranking: 10
You have to credit the Stormers for the fighting spirit they showed in salvaging a hard-fought draw against the Crusaders on Saturday. However, they remain at the bottom of the local conference.
11. Blues (5-7) – last week’s ranking: 13
The Blues were full value for their impressive 23-8 win over the Chiefs on Saturday, with the gutsy Auckland-based side rising a couple of spots as a result.
12. Waratahs (5-7) – last week’s ranking: 12
The Waratahs did just enough to claim an important 40-32 victory over the Reds in round 14, which sees them move to within just one log point of the Brumbies.
13. Chiefs (4-2-7) – last week’s ranking: 11
It’s largely been a season of disappointment for the Chiefs, who succumbed to a meek defeat against the Blues this past weekend to remain well and truly rooted to the basement of the Kiwi conference.
14. Reds (5-7) – last week’s ranking: 14
The Reds remain in 14th place after losing to the Waratahs. Ultimately, they again failed to display a killer instinct when it mattered most.
15. Sunwolves (2-10) – last week’s ranking: 15
The Sunwolves had a bye this past weekend, with 11 log points separating them from the next best side in Super Rugby.
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